The aim of this assessment is to get you to interpret business-related data in order to address a topic of historical relevance relating to the economic history of the British economy during the pre-Second World War period. The data provided relates to the performance of selected individual businesses (e.g. profits, dividends on ordinary shares) operating during the first 40 years of the twentieth century (or some part thereof) taken from both the old, declining, staple industries (e.g., coal, iron, and steel) and new industries (e.g., motor vehicles, oil). Your task is to examine and interpret relevant data, either for a single company or a small sub-group thereof, from that provided (and/or which you have found from your own research) to address one of the topics indicated below. The data should be interpreted in the light of the debate amongst economic and business historians relating to the chosen topic. To this end, you may also wish to consult other data sources indicated (e.g. Marquand (1937), Mitchell (and Deane) (1962), Mitchell (1988), Williams (1985)) or contemporary sources available online (e.g. The Times Digital Archive and the Economist Historical Archive, both available via the University library website). Please note that you only have to address one of the topics, not all three. Your work will be assessed according to the assessment criteria set out in the module outline and, in particular, your ability to incorporate and interpret relevant data within the framework of the debate surrounding the topic which you have decided to answer.
Topics (choose only one):
- The plight of the staple industries explains the high level of unemployment in the valleys of South Wales during the 1930s (choose a specific valley, do not try to cover all the valleys in the coalfield!).
- The First World War materially impacted on the nature and performance of British business during the first 40 years of the century.
- The poor performance of some British businesses during the interwar years was due to a failure of management in introducing new (scientific) management techniques.